Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Big Yellow Taxi

"They paved paradise and put up a parking lot..."

There are some songs that no matter who covers them, no matter where I am at the time, no matter what's on my mind, I stop and listen.

"Big Yellow Taxi" by Joni Mitchell is one of those songs. From Joni's lilting voice to Amy Grant's smooth vocals, to the Counting Crow's more gravelly sound, I just love listening to that song.

I've tried to play it myself but could never do it justice.

It is one of those songs that transcends generations, too. The line in the refrain is all too familiar. Sing along with me...

"Don't it always seem to go, that you don't know what you've got til it's gone..."

Okay, a little off key, but the point is made. Many times we don't know what we've got until we no longer have it. I had two moments like that recently.

While reading a trade magazine I came across a reference of a new book on branding. The book was right up my alley. I checked it out online and found multiple sites selling it. I was about to order it online but my Buy Local button kicked in. So I started to shoot an email over to Nomad Bookhouse to see if they had it before realizing they were gone, closed. I miss them.

At the same time, my wife and boys were visiting Fun 4 All Kids, a big inflatable playground where we have celebrated both boy's birthdays. It was their last visit. As you read this, F4AK has closed.

One of our friends made the comment, "If I had known they were in trouble, maybe I would have stopped by more often."

I heard the same things said about Nomad.

The point I want to make is this...

What are we waiting for? If there is a store, restaurant, or hangout that you particularly like, what are you doing to ensure it's success? If there is a business you would hate to see go away, have you told your friends about it? Have you touted their virtues, sung their praises, shouted their benefits to the world?

Seth Godin, one of my favorite bloggers, said that we too often keep our favorite stores to ourselves, maybe fearful that if too many people know about it, it won't be special anymore. (Read his blog on the subject here http://sethgodin.typepad.com/seths_blog/2008/11/dont-know-what.html) But how special are they if they're gone?

In today's economic climate, when traditional advertising is less and less effective, the one tried and true, always works, form of advertising is word-of-mouth.

Don't let any more of your favorite places go away. Start talking about them now before they're in trouble. As my friend, Bridget can attest, the outpouring of wonderful sentiments was incredible when she announced the closing of Nomad. Just think what might have happened if that outpouring of sentiment happened three or six months earlier, and not just to her but to everyone you know?

Make it your New Years Resolution to sing the praises of your favorite stores ten times more this year than last. You might be surprised how much impact and influence you can have.

Happy New Year!

-Phil

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